A Phuket golf vacation includes playing on some rounds in one of the world’s most beautiful locations and golfing on seaside courses should definitely an experience to savour, whether it’s a windy links course in Ireland or over the ocean golfing in Bali.
Golf in Phuket Thailand for most golfers entails heading straight for Blue Canyon or Red Mountain, both of which are inland tin mining courses. However, shouldn’t a seaside golf course be part of the Phuket golf experience?
For this, most expect the Nicklaus designed Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort and Spa to fit the bill. Only ten minutes from Phuket International airport and around 40 minutes from Patong, the Phuket golf resort is located right on the banks of the Andaman Sea. In fact, the Mission Hills signature holes run right up to the coastline and literally play alongside the local fisherman with a few exotic birds as partners too!
The whole experience starts with the welcoming club house, with a magnificent see through archway, directly overlooking the 9th hole, with the sea in the background. You can’t wait to get out there. The 1st hole is next to a covered bar, so there is time for a cool drink before teeing off. This hole is fairly straight forward par 4, 344yards and a slight dog leg to the right.
The golf course is relatively flat; however Nicklaus has still managed to create some interest with some raised greens, lakes and a few well placed bunkers. Very unusual is the 2nd hole, a par 5 with a green on a manmade island, that also doubles as the green for hole five. The signature par 3 4th hole requires teeing off over a large expanse of sand onto a slightly raised green with the sea in the background. Hit too far and you may knock the local fisherman out of his boat!!!
Another noteworthy hole is the 18th. The finishing hole is a 382 yard par 4 with water down the entire right hand side which requires a long iron second shot to an island green, a great way to complete any round.
Unfortunately, the fun stops with the design and layout. The course was supposed to be fulfilled with the best selected grass, Paspalum Sea Isle 1 for the fairways and Paspalum Sea Isle 2000 for the greens. Later, after several years of unsuccessful attempts to get the turf to grow out, the owner tried to change the grass to native Bermuda. This too has had problems and nowadays the course conditions rather resemble a parking lot with a few clumps of grass scattered here and there.
As a consequence those who do play must use “winter rules” to find a suitable hitting surface. It’s too bad as the course has loads of potential and personally is one of my Phuket favourites. Hopefully, things will change in the future, but for now I would give Mission Hills Phuket a miss.